How to Write a Resume with Little or No Experience – Part Two

2022, Resume Writing

Last time we look at how your soft skills and a good cover letter can help you smooth over the cracks of a resume with little or no experience. This time, we will give you some more techniques that will help you shine, no matter how scant your work history may be. 

Remember, you do not need to have every single qualification listed in the job advertisement; people get hired all the time without being a line-for-line match with the job posting. You should have most of the qualifications, of course, and do not apply for jobs that ask for ten years of experience if you have only been working for one. But if the ad asks for three years of experience and you have one year, and you can write a really good cover letter and point to solid achievements in those two years, then go ahead and apply. So, you might not have years of work experience, but what else in your background can demonstrate that you have the skills the employer wants? For instance, maybe your fundraising work with your college alumni association demonstrates that you can quickly create rapport with people of all backgrounds and are not afraid to ask for money. Or maybe the tech blog you have run as a hobby demonstrates compelling writing and an ability to pick up new technology quickly. Experience does not have to just come from traditional professional jobs; you probably have other things in your life that demonstrate useful skills.

One thing that potential employers will respond well to is if you have clearly read the job description, researched the company (and its vision) and reflect that judiciously in your resume. Do your homework. Once you have read through the document, read it again to make sure it does not sound too generic. Employers can sense a ‘one size fits all’ document a mile off, so pepper it with keywords that specifically relate to the position.  Do not make it too obvious, as that is a negative issue on its own. You may be having to have your resume pass through Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software, which will catch this over-zealous tendency and metaphorically put you in the bin before human eyes have even seen it. If you have not tackled ATS before, it is an application that enables the electronic handling of recruitment and hiring needs. An ATS can be implemented or accessed online at enterprise-, small-business levels or Government gazetted job-level depending on the needs of the organisation.

soft skills and a good cover letter can help you smooth over the cracks of a resume with little or no experience

If you make the interview, strike the right balance between confidence and humility. This is a tricky one. On the one hand, if you are not confident that you can do the work, your interviewer will not be either. But on the other hand, you do not want to come across as inappropriately cocky or naive about your own experience level and what it will take to do the job well. You need to find a balance somewhere in the middle – confident but with a realistic understanding of your own strengths, weaknesses and lack of practical experience.

While all of the tips in these two blogs help strengthen your candidacy when you do not have a lot of experience, it is also important to be realistic about what types of jobs you will be considered qualified for. In a tight job market like this one, where employers are flooded with highly qualified applicants, there is less incentive for them to consider people who are less qualified. You will have the most success if you carefully target jobs you truly can prove you can succeed at – not just jobs where you think “I could do that,” but jobs where you can point to specific evidence that you would excel. 

At the end of the day, it is important to remember that experience is not everything — and, luckily, employers filling internships and entry-level roles do not expect you to have much of it just yet. However, they do want to see an active applicant who has demonstrated a genuine interest in their position. So, when you sit down to write your resume, try to think about your limited experiences in a new light. If your experience seems unrelated or inadequate to the role you want, think about what skills you have practiced or learned that could be applicable.  Above all, though, do not let these early resumes intimidate you. Everyone has been in your shoes at one point (even the hiring manager)—and hey, the only way you are going to grow your experience is one position at a time.

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How to Write a Resume with Little or No Experience – Part One
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